April 15: 3,000 years of feeling forsaken

by Eve Beglarian

Lenten Devotional 2011I am overcome by the sudden visceral awareness that just as I am rereading Psalm 22 today, Jesus had read Psalm 22 many times during his lifetime. He quoted this exact poem, a piece of writing that was already perhaps a thousand years old, to express his terror and what I can’t help but call his humanity in the face of death. In Mark’s and Matthew’s accounts, Jesus cries out the Aramaic translation of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” Aramaic being the language of his childhood, the language of his mother and father and brothers and sisters, not the official language of the scriptures.

The thing that strikes me is not so much the idea that Jesus is fulfilling prophesy, proving his status as the Messiah and all that. (Later in this same Psalm is the business about “casting lots for his garments” that Matthew describes and quotes as scriptural fulfillment.) Instead, I am overwhelmed by the fact that this text has been a deep part of the shared life of all of us “people of the book” for nearly three thousand years. Jesus had those words by heart in his own language just as you and I do in ours.

And the Psalm itself, which starts in such desolate agony and aloneness, ends with these profoundly true lines:

Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.


Exodus 9:13-35
Psalms 22, 141, 143
2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Mark 10:32-45